Gov. Charlie Baker’s Democratic challenger says the head of the Massachusetts State Police, Colonel Kerry Gilpin, should be fired.
Jay Gonzalez said Wednesday that Baker needs to “take charge” of the embattled agency in the wake of its ongoing overtime abuse scandal. Nearly 50 members of the department have been accused of overtime abuse.
“Governor Baker should appoint someone to lead the state police who is not a part of that culture, someone from the outside who has experience in other similar agencies,” he said.
Gonzalez added that he thinks Baker has been too slow to act in the aftermath of the fraud. “What we need is a governor who’s going to take action and who’s going to have a sense of urgency about this and take responsibility and be accountable ... he's in charge of the State Police, and he needs to act like it.”
Baker defended his actions, citing a number of indictments of former state troopers, and crediting Gilpin for her role in investigating the abuse.
“I think the work that's being done by the colonel is exactly the right kind of work to be done,” Baker said. “She's the one that led the investigation, expanded it, and she's the one that submitted the documentation to both the attorney general and the U.S. attorney's office. It's led to these these indictments and these [guilty] pleas.”
Baker added that the state police have started using GPS tracking devices on trooper vehicles, as recommended by Colonel Gilpin, and that overtime hours logged at the airports are down by about 30 percent.
“There's obviously a lot more to be done," Baker said, "but my view on this is this investigation and the follow-up on it is exactly what I hoped would happen.”
A WBUR poll out Wednesday morning finds Baker well ahead of Gonzalez among likely voters.
With reporting by WBUR's Steve Brown